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Great Lakes water levels increase

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  All five Great Lakes have much higher water levels than a year ago, thanks to the heavy rains and snows of the past 12 months. However Lakes Michigan and Huron are still 17-inches below their long-term averages for October, while Lake Superior is slightly below average. As a result federal officials say it's too early to declare an end to the reduced water levels that have plagued the Great Lakes for about 15 years.

Federal forecasters said yesterday that Lakes Michigan and Huron would remain below their long-term averages by 16-inches next April. Lake Superior is expected to be three-inches below normal.

All forecasts hinge on the type of winter precipitation we get. For now, shippers are getting at least some reprieve from the shallow harbors which forced freighters to carry lighter loads.

The Lake Carriers Association says many vessels have hauled up to 6,000 more tons of cargo this year, compared to last. However the group says average loads are still about 5,000 tons below normal. The Lake Carriers are asking Congress to spend more to dredge those harbors that remain shallow.